Most stallions make good geldings. That's an old horseman's adage, which holds equally true for long-eared equines. Unless you're breeding donkeys or mules, it's best to geld your jack donkeys. For pets or working animals, you don't need to deal with all that testosterone. It's also frustrating for the jack to deal with constant urges he can't satisfy.
Donkey and mule expert Meredith Hodges -- who happens to be the daughter of "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz -- states that jack donkeys can be your best friend or worst enemy. Jack donkeys can act like Jekyll and Hyde; one minute, he's a calm, loveable sweetheart, then something triggers an aggressive response. Hodges says horse stallions might give you some warning that they're about to explode, but that isn't true with intact donkeys.
Certain management techniques help make living with your jack donkey somewhat easier and safer. If possible, keep him out of sight and smelling range of female donkeys and horses. If that's impractical in your situation, make sure he has a large pen or paddock to call his own -- with high, strong fencing. Because donkeys are herd animals, you might want to keep your jack next to geldings or mules, so they can see but not touch each other. Give him a job, other than breeding. Teach him to drive or train him for riding or packing. Spend sufficient amounts of time grooming and caring for him, but always be wary and careful. Jacks should always be handled by those with equine experience, not novices.
The American Donkey and Mule Society can't make it any plainer. They state that jack donkeys should not be pets because, as intact breeding animals, "At some moment in their life they will think with their hormones and not with their brain." Experienced donkey people can relate tales of jacks causing serious injury to people, dogs and other equines and livestock. This often occurs out of the blue, in jacks previously thought docile and good-tempered.
If you do intend to breed donkeys or mules, that's a different story. Before deciding to keep your jack intact, make sure he's worthy of adding to the gene pool. He should possess good conformation and an excellent temperament. If he has one of those attributes but not the other, geld him. For best results, geld donkeys by age 2. You'll know by then what sort of disposition he has and his mature conformation.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.